When Working-Out is the Worst, How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise

Everyone knows exercising is good thing.  Breaking a sweat boosts your energy, heart health, immunity and helps you sleep better.  More than just strengthening your physical health, working out almost immediately releases the magic trifecta of these monoamines (natural chemicals in your body that affect your mood): serotonin, dopamine and norepinepherine. This study, like countless others, demonstrated that exercising regularly produced the same effect as taking Zoloft (an anti-depressant that keeps more serotonin flowing through your system).

Even more impressive are the similarities between morphine and endorphins.  Endorphins are those natural pain killers that are released in your body when you exercise.   The more pain you experience, the more your amazing body pumps endorphins into your system.  When endorphins flood your system, they produce a clean, euphoric state of well-being (one of the main reasons your mood improves when you exercise).  As the New York Times put it, running can make you high. (As for birth euphoria?  I'll believe that one when I see it.)

Equipped with all that great information on how exercising can improve your life in every possible way, why wouldn't you start working-out immediately?


For so many people, there's nothing rhetorical about the question of why not to work out. Exercising can be so boring and hard to motivate yourself to consistently do (plus the gym can sometimes smell weird).

Are these all excuses to avoid something you know you really need to do?  If you want to get all technical, then yes.  But any excuse to avoid working-out is an excellent excuse for those of us who don't enjoy it.

Here are 3 Mantras to help you cut through your excuses and give yourself 'the gift' of exercise (ugh):

1. "If I do this now, I won't have to do it later."  The best news you can hear if you don't like exercising is that you don't have to do it.  Ironically, after you do exercise, your day will be free of that vague guilt you near-constantly feel when you avoid working-out, and you can relish in the complete and utter joy of having to do absolutely zero exercise for the remainder of your day.

2. "This is the worst but I'm gonna do it anyway."  Skip the mental acrobatics involved in convincing yourself that you're one of those people who gets really excited about exercising.  Being honest about your level of exercise enjoyment helps take the pressure off of making the whole endeavor something that it's just not.  Yes, it's a chore for you and yes, you're gonna do it anyway.

3. "Motivation sold separately."  Use this mantra to remind yourself that motivation is a bonus, not a requisite.  Motivation is transient; it comes and goes, even when you love working out.  Get it out of  your head that you should feel motivated to go to the gym.  If you focus your energy on finding a way to build your motivation, you're running a fool's errand.  You can buy all the cute lululemon wear you like, you're still not going to hit the gym consistently unless you just decide to do it.  For you, working out is a simple decision, not an inspired act.  If you wait to be motivated, you might be waiting forever.

If you continue to encounter difficulty with changing your work-out habits (or lack thereof), maybe you just need an extra push of accountability to get you going.  If you live in NYC, consider hiring one of these awesome personal trainers, meeting with a health coach who gets it, or seeing a therapist (cough, me, cough) to help you work on identifying the thoughts and behaviors that hold you back from doing what you know you should be doing.  If you live outside of NYC or would simply prefer a different kind of platform, there are so many great websites that link you up with work out teams, pick-up games, accountability systems and online support.  Also, there's an app for that.

Know someone who doesn't like working out?  I wouldn't exactly hate it if you shared this post.